Then came WW11 and with it he immediately re-mustered into the regular army by joining the 29th Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment, better known as the Alberta Regiment. He would be commissioned soon as a Lt, and get rapid promotions to Captain in 1941 and Major by 1944.
Regular readers of these blogs know of the Civil War famous battles of the sea and of massive armada's of ships concentrated on some of the dozen or more major strongholds of the Confederacy. Fort Fisher alone saw well over 50 vessels attacking as mention in very recent blogs... and those were the biggest on record in the 1860's.
But in retrospect perhaps they sure seem small when you consider that during the Normandy landings of WW11 eight navies brought millions of service men and women to the shores of France in almost 7,000 vessels of all description.
Just a few months later David... and thousands of others would find themselves in and around an area that became known as the Falaise Gap.
These two maps of a portion France show the Gap but are rather confusing. I will try to explain briefly. Both are of the same area but the one on the right is far more detailed. To give an idea of where this is, off both maps and to the right about 160 km is Paris. The town of Falaise on the left map is just above the red dotted line at the top of the Bulge, and below the flag and words...Cdn Ist Army
On the left map this red dotted line almost encloses axis powers, noted by the Swastika's. They are actually within the Bulge or Pocket and in a very bad spot. They are surrounded on three sides by the armies of several countries and have only one way out and that is off to the right through the open area that was labelled the Gap...the Falaise Gap. It would be here that a decisive battle would wrap up the Normandy campaign with very heavy fighting in Mid August of 1944. A win here for the Allies would see the roads to Paris opened and not long after...the roads into Germany.
The map on the right shows the allied push Southbound, Northbound and Eastbound and thus squeezing the Axis troops into a narrow line that has only one way out..to the right and through the Gap...where more troops including David are waiting for them.
David, by now a Major, is ordered to take the town of Saint Lambert-Sur-Dives which is being very heavily protected by the Germans who have to keep it open to allow their troops to escape from the Bulge. Under his command are several tanks from his South Alberta Regiment, some artillery and some infantry from the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. Saint Lambert is just off the right side of the right map and below the compass. (or clock)
Late in the day of 18 August Major Currie made an attack on the heavily protected town of St Lambert. He took heavy casualties including the loss of two of his tanks damaged by the enemy's 88 mm guns. In the attack he also lost all of his officers due to death or wounding. After dark he evaded sentries and made it back into town to check out their defences and also made his way to the two tanks, and led the Canadian gunners back to friendly lines.
The following day he led another attack into the town, occupying half and even recovering his lost two tanks. Using the intelligence learned the day earlier, he was better able to place his own defences, and turn back numerous attempts by the Germans to retake ground lost. Throughout all of this David kept on his feet and moved about constantly checking on the defences and ensuring all his men were OK.
When the enemy was about to finally launch a final attack on the major they were stunned to find themselves on the wrong end of an attack that was so furious that many of the Germans simply gave up. By days end Currie and his men had captured or destroyed 7 enemy tanks, a dozen 88 mm guns, destroyed 40 vehicles, killed over 300 Germans, wounded another 500 and took 2,100 prisoners of war.
After 36 hours on his feet...less one hour... Major Currie was finally relieved. He was so tired he instantly fell asleep...while still standing... and collapsed on the spot.
Major Currie is standing 3rd from the left getting a report from one of his troopers. He is holding a pistol in his right hand. 3rd from the right is a German officer who is surrendering to a Sergeant Major. The exact location from 1944 is shown on the right many years later. A plaque and crest in front of the building gives honour to the battle. An actual filming of part of the fighting and the surrender can be viewed by going to...
During the Battle of Scheldt a few months later the regiment's HQ sent an order to Major Currie...get to London on double quick time!
It seems that he was about to be presented with a Victoria Cross. But his first nomination was for the Distinguished Service Cross, but higher command upped it to an actual VC.
Here's what the London Gazette had to say about Major Currie. No doubt it may not a first but I believe it is the first time I have seen a gazette entry and in the whole order, it only contained one VC. But nevertheless, here is that issue....
end of supplement
Major Currie was rushed by auto to the Channel and raced across in a high speed motor boat, picked up by a car and driven to Buckingham Palace. He was still wearing his batttledress uniform that he had not been out of for about 2 weeks. Over this was his oil stained tanker crew set of overalls. He at least got out of them in London, entered the castle, walked along some pretty nice carpet and stood before his and the Empire's King George V1. Lord Chamberlain read the citation and a Brig. General handed the velvet cushion holding the Victoria Cross to the King, who was wearing the uniform of the Admiral of the Fleet. The King pinned the VC on Currie's chest and they exchange a few words, shook hands and Currie was off again. But this time to a crowd of cameras out side the building and within days back home for a Christmas with his family.
From 1960 to 1978 he was the Sergeant of Arms at the Parliament Buildings at Ottawa.
There is a road named after this brave Canadian in Saskatoon, and armoury for him at Moose Jaw and a plaque in Owen Sound next to two others, one being for Billy Bishop, VC.
NOTE: This was to appear yesterday but about 2 hrs. before being due to be published the screen went blank and the entire blog was lost.... and redone today.
See you next Wednesday.